Writing in Quarantine

No, I’m not actually quarantined. It sounds more dramatic that way.

However, I have been doing a decent amount of writing during the pandemic. It helps when I can’t go to classes, friend’s houses, the theater, symphony, festivals, choir, and I couldn’t travel in Utah during the best time of year (April). I had to make do with the adventures in my head—er, on the page.

If you’re like me, you are most productive when you are the most busy. That is, when you have 2 hours to get something done, you get it done! …Vs when you have an entire Saturday, you end up not getting around to it.

Luckily, I’m also working on packing to move out of my sister’s house. So today for example I spent 3 hours diddling around in the morning with breakfast (reading) and email, then got down to work: 3 hours cleaning and packing up boxes, which got that restlessness out of me, and 2 hours polishing up a short story for submission.

And I submitted it! 2 days after the original deadline, but 28 days before the extended-because-of-covid deadline. Woot!

Corporeal Substantiation

Origin: This story came from an idea I had while at LTUE (I have no memory of what started it) of a culture of illusionists. Mixed with 12 Angry Men.

When illusion is part of everyday life, how do you solve a murder?

Setting: I’ve been listening to a number of Great Courses on the history of the Americas, so although my first impulse was to model the illusionist society after Rome or France or something easy (easy…), I decided Mesoamerican Maya would be more fun. After some plotting, I realized ancient Maya was too far removed from my expertise, and I’d have to worry about things like, you know, historical accuracy. And gender roles were going to get in the way of my desire to have a romantic subplot. So I moved the story to the near future instead, in an alternate world where the Spanish never landed in Mesoamerica (or were defeated by the natives; point is the conquistadors didn’t conquistar), and where there are two types of magic: shamanic (commune with the gods, spirit guides, sacrifice, etc.), and illusionist.

Title: The title was random. I have no idea where it came from. I was writing the story, and Abi (the protagonist) needed some sort of term she could pretend to ask about, and “corporeal substantiation” flowed onto the page. WTH is that, I wondered, and does it even make sense? A quick Google search turned up no results. Good. So I then scrutinized the words separately, and to my great surprise, it held up. In the context of investigating illusions, it kind of means “tangible evidence” (it’s explained in the story).

Synopsis: Here’s the first blurb I wrote for the story. It’s not the blurb in my submission because it’s slightly too long.

The High Priest has been murdered. Fortunately, the killer was seen by witnesses and even recorded on video. Unfortunately, it’s probably all illusion magic. Abi and the other volunteers have three days to investigate motive, means, and—most crucially—evidence. Can they solve the case, or will the murderer go free… and will Abi’s personal objectives cause the tides to turn?

The story ended at about 14,500 words, which was a relief because I thought the limit was 15,000 (try 17,500). I had a lot of fun with it, and I like how it turned out. My sister and future brother-in-law liked it too, and I’m sure they aren’t biased or anything.

I submitted to an anthology called Parliament of Wizards. We’ll see…


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